This volume presents an introduction to recent contemporary art history. It focuses on seven important themes that have recurred in art over the past few decades -- identity, the body, time, place, language, science, and spirituality. The opening chapter provides a concise overview of the period, analyzing how five key changes (the rise of new media, a growing awareness of diversity, globalization, the influence of theory, and interactions with everyday visual culture) have resulted in an art world with dramatically expanded boundaries. The remaining seven chapters each feature an introduction to one thematic topic; a brief look at historical influences; a detailed analysis of how contemporary artists have responded to and embodied aspects of the theme in specific works; and two profiles of artists who have extensively explored aspects of the theme in their work. The book's thematic organization encourages students, gallery goers, and other readers to think actively and critically about the ideas expressed in the artwork instead of simply memorizing "who, what, when, and where."
Includes bibliographical references (pages 321-329) and index
Introduction. Themes of contemporary art : what, why, and how -- A brief orientation -- 1. The art world expands. Overview of history and art history : 1980-2008 -- Old media thrive, new media make waves -- A spectrum of voices emerges -- Globalization -- Theory flexes its muscles -- Art meets contemporary culture -- 2. Identity. Identity in art history -- Identity is communal or relational -- Identity politics -- Identity is constructed -- Post identity -- Profile: Nancy Burson -- Profile: Shirin Neshat -- 3. The body. Past figurative art -- A new spin on the body -- The body beautiful -- Sexual bodies -- The gaze -- Mortal bodies -- Posthuman bodies -- Profile: Renee Cox -- Profile: Zhang Huan -- 4. Time. Time and art history -- Changing views of time -- Exploring the structure of time -- Revisiting the past -- Commemorating the past -- Profile: Brian Tolle -- Profile: Cornelia Parker -- 5. Place. Places have meanings -- Places have value -- History's influence -- Looking at places -- Looking out for places -- Real and simulated places -- Placeless spaces -- What's public? What's private? -- In-between places -- Profile: Janet Cardiff -- Profile: Unilever Series at Tate Modern -- 6. Language. Words with art : a history -- Art with words : a history -- Recent theories of language -- Reasons for using language -- Language makes meaning -- Language takes form -- Wielding the power of language -- Naming -- Confronting the challenge of translation -- Using text in the information age -- Profile: Nina Katchadourian -- Profile: Ken Aptekar -- 7. Science. What is science -- Artists as amateur scientists -- Artists adopt scientific tools and materials -- The ideology of science -- The visual culture of science -- Classifying humans in the genomic age -- Is nature natural? -- Marveling at the universe -- Profile: Patricia Piccinini -- Profile: Eduardo Kac -- 8. Spirituality. Spirituality and religion -- A short history -- A few strategies -- Finding faith and harboring doubt -- Expressing religious identities -- Facing death, doom, and destruction -- Mingling the sacred and the secular -- Profile: Jose Bedia -- Profile: Bill Viola -- Timeline (1980-2008)